Another space company is headed into orbit soon, this time through SpaceX—the company founded by Elon Musk. The company says that it's the first mission to orbit that's made up entirely of civilians. Their names were announced in March 2021.
The four individuals going to space on the Dragon spacecraft will “conduct experiments designed to expand our knowledge of the universe” and also raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Who are the four crew members who were chosen to fly into orbit on the Inspiration4 mission?
SpaceX Inspiration4 crew members
The commander of the mission, expected to launch in mid-September, is jet pilot Jared Isaacman. He's the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, which trades on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “FOUR.” Shift4 Payments is an integrated payment processing company. Isaacman has flown other missions to raise money and awareness for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Hayley Arceneaux is also set to take part in the Inspiration4 mission this month. She's an osteosarcoma survivor who as a child received life-saving treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Currently, she works as a physician assistant at St. Jude and is representing the “Hope” seat on the flight.
Representing the “Generosity” pillar on the mission is Chris Sembroski. He served in the U.S. Air Force and now works in the aerospace industry at Lockheed Martin. Sembroski’s role is that of Mission Specialist, which means that he will manage payload, science experiments, communications to mission control, and more. He's among nearly 72,000 entrants who donated to St. Jude for a chance at a mission spot.
The final seat on Inspiration4 will be filled by Dr. Sian Proctor, who is an entrepreneur and a trained pilot. She was selected from applicants to an independently judged online business competition. Her title on the flight is Mission Pilot, and she represents the pillar of “Prosperity.”
SpaceX mission details
The mission is the subject of a newly-released Netflix limited series, “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission To Space.” The 24-hour window for launch starts on September 14, 2021, at 8:00 p.m. ET. About three days before the mission, that launch period will be narrowed to a five-hour window based on weather conditions.
According to SpaceX, the mission of the orbital space flight is to “inspire support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and send a humanitarian message of possibility while representing a new era for human spaceflight and exploration.”
With SpaceX, health researchers will collect biomedical and environmental data and biological samples from the four crew members before, during, and after the flight. Some of the crew’s research entails monitoring their ECG activity, movement, sleep, heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen saturation, cabin noise, and light intensity.
Inspiration4 differs from the flights of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin this summer. Those flights were mere minutes long and without a similar emphasis on research.
During Inspiration4’s three-day mission, it will target a 575 kilometer orbit, which is farther from Earth than any human flight into space since the Hubble Telescope repair missions.